How and Why I did a Social Media Fast
By Ion Gonzaga
The secret’s out… I went to rehab. Sort of.
Weeks ago, I did a social media fasting – no Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for 7 days. It wasn’t too easy for someone who breathes social media. I used to be an impulsive Facebook user, sharing almost anything, checking about everything. Like most of you, I had a FoMO apprehension at some point – Fear of Missing Out.
The first 2 attempts failed as I itched back too quickly in it again. Determined to do it, I uninstalled Facebook app and the messenger. For 7 days they don’t exist. Discipline.
The time spent lurking on the feeds don’t help my ever growing to-do list. It has taken its toll on things I really want to do on and offline.
A research found that users between 18 and 34 years old spend an average of 3.8 hours a day on social media. That’s almost HALF A DAY’s work! News feeds are filled with filtered moments of our lives; Temporary happiness – what everyone had for dinner, where they are traveling, OOTDs, their awe about the number of likes for their #IWokeUpLikeThis photos, new gadgets, striking quotations, rants about the government, their delayed salaries, #IfYouTypeAmen chain letters, how they seem to miss Kris Aquino or Mrs. West, etc.
How and Why I did a Social Media Fast
By the time I wake up, or even before I tap that snooze alarm, I’m already consuming these not-so-important updates from everybody. Unconsciously, time flies too quickly.
The 7-day fasting is a kind of “cleansing” process to refocus a significant amount of time from social media into more important matters, and to rekindle real relationships.
SO, WHAT DID I MISS?
In 7 days, I missed a number of event invites, a couple of writing gigs, one group announcement and a bunch of sweet hi’s and hello’s. They are important. I don’t delight missing them but I don’t feel really bad. The hiatus didn’t really stop the world. It won’t.
I also had news blackout from trolls and self-proclaimed (and irrational) political analysts.
WHAT I REALIZED
There are too much drama and too many divas not worth the attention. Relevance lost. I don’t need the noise. A lot more things are more worthy of my time.
I was able to refocus on many valuable things – spiritual growth among them. The world has become busier than ever that we don’t find a genuine time to talk to Him and listen to what He says. How’s your faith today?
Before, when I was idle, like waiting at the parking lot or waiting for my wife to finish shopping or just standing on queue, I hold my phone and browse Facebook – to pass time.
Those little scrolling, photo viewing, and watching funny videos totals to quite significant amount of time.
During the fasting, I committed to self-study. I aimed to increase my knowledge, understanding and wisdom on many areas I feel I was lacking of. I started using other apps – one daily devotional to read, a journal to document my progress, and a fitness challenge app that only requires 5-8 minutes of my time daily.
In my time off, I was able to do the following among others:
Reorganize and de-clutter my inbox – from 5,000+ unread messages to 0. Develop a 5-10 minute morning workout. Read 2 books and write a journal. Finish work more efficiently. Wash the dishes one day a week. Ponder on bigger and wiser plans ahead. Best of all, these things are now habits.
Now I’m using social media with a regulated approach. I have my defined time off, and “no-phone” zones. I did it little by little, slow and steady. I don’t get sore thumbs for “SCROLLiosis” anymore.
Fasting helps. I was surprised to discover there’s a lot more things I love to do in lieu of glancing at what everyone is doing. Today, I committed to lessen the tweet a bit, reduce more kilogram than Instagram, and yes, read a book before Facebook.
And instead of WhatsApp, let’s meet up. Shall we?
If there is one thing unique about Ion Gonzaga, it’s being able to represent the realities, hopes and thoughts of the ‘typical Juan dela Cruz’ with his aptly named renowned blog – ‘Boy Dubai.’ The blog, which started making waves online in 2011, presents a slice of life in a Filipino expat’s life in the emirates with each post. Check out Ion’s blog at www.boydubai.com